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A Writing Technique So Advanced You May Need a Black Belt to Attempt It
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Sep 10, 2013, 9:35 AM

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A Writing Technique So Advanced You May Need a Black Belt to Attempt It Can't Post

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Here's the backstory. Last November, we published an essay by Benjamin Percy in which he stated that backstory "is almost always unnecessary." He urged beginning writers, in particular, to stay away from the past. "Listen to the sensei when he tells you to achieve some mastery of kung fu before you start trying to kick down doors," he warned.


Not everyone agreed. In the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, Eleanor Henderson writes, "I wasn't born yesterday, and neither were my characters." (Ouch!) "There are a thousand and one ways to use backstory in fiction," she claims. "To dismiss backstory is to dismiss a powerful technique."


How important is backstory to your writing? Read the essays, and then, in the comments section that follows Henderson's piece, voice your opinion about the role of backstory. Oh, and don't be surprised if Henderson and Percy jump into the fray. (Note that you must be logged in to pw.org to leave a comment.) 


Read the Essays 

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